A long-serving member of the Indian Armed Forces, Col. Arupendu Gupta has worked in J&K High Altitude Area, Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Operations, and in the North East before finally commanding his unit in the Kuki Hills of Manipur. Over the years, he has also served as an instructor at the Infantry School, Army War College and at Indian Military Training Team for the Royal Bhutan Army. Based in Bangalore since 2015, Col. Gupta and his family are enthusiastic about fitness and are active members of the running community. The Bengaluru 10K Challenge, Puma Urban Stampede 5K, SP Bengaluru Half Marathon, and Adidas Uprising 10K are some of the runs that he has been a part of. FirstRun caught up with Col. Gupta over a short chat on his running philosophy.

When and how did you get involved with running?
I took on running more as an afterthought, after an ugly motorcycle accident in 2000, rendered me unfit for most of the other games that I loved. I picked up golf and upper body gymming, but those never going to be enough for me. After a couple of years I started jogging – it involved a consistent motion and seemed like far better exercise. Over time, my kids joined me during these morning jogs. I encouraged it actively and physical fitness became part of our entire family’s daily routine. We arrived at Bangalore in June 2015 and I learnt that this place has numerous runs, which are organised almost every second week and cater to all kind of runners. So, I joined the fray along with my wife, Sowmya, daughter, Niharika and son, Aayushendu.

What do you love most about running?
I love the simplicity of running. All one needs is a route and that’s all. I love the fact that one can run in any weather, including in the infamous Bangalore rains. One can run whenever one feels like it, and wherever one wants. To that extent, I am fortunate that the cantonment areas in our country are largely well laid out with proper walkways for me to run in. Running is my favourite “Me Time”. Many a time I run alone, without timing myself, just to clear my mind or to get over the lingering bitterness of an unpleasant incident, or even to bounce around a few ideas in my head. I love the feeling of getting into a zone, thinking of nothing in particular, as the kilometers keep passing by. As the body tires, I slowly come back to the present, and then finish off the run.

In Bangalore, my favourite running areas are the RSI grounds and the ASC Centre campus
In Bangalore, my favourite running areas are the RSI grounds and the ASC Centre campus

Give us a glimpse into your running routine.
I don’t follow any fixed schedule. I run about three to four times a week, either in the morning, or in the evening as per my work schedule and mood. While preparing for a run, the distances vary from a 2.5km sprint up to 12km. I run these in a non-linear pattern, and keep alternating between long and short routes. In Bangalore, my favourite running areas are the RSI grounds and the ASC Centre campus. I go into distances beyond 12 km only when I am specifically training for a run beyond 10km. Keeping my body and fitness in mind, I normally participate in one event every month.

What is your favorite running memory?
I have many happy memories about running, and it’s pretty difficult to select any one such event. However, the Puma Urban Stampede was particularly special, as both my daughter and I landed up in the top 10%.

Do you have any gear preferences?
I never actually used any special shoes or apparel when I started. Any T-shirt, shorts, socks and trainers would do. A couple of band aids here and there would take care of blisters. It’s only after I started participating in runs that I have turned a bit more particular. Nowadays, I use Kalenji T shirts, shorts and running briefs. I find Artengo cotton socks to be the best for long distance running. My favourite running shoes are a pair of Reebok Sublite that I am using since the past one year. I prefer Reebok or Kalenji trainers for the treadmill.

My advice for beginners would be not to aim too big.
Just run, and keep at it till you reach some kind of an acceptable standard

How would you inspire a beginner to keep running?
My advice for beginners would be not to aim too big. Buy a comfortable pair of trainers and start. Run for the fun of it. Not ever runner wins events and neither should every runner start running just to win. Start modestly. Don’t take yourself or this sport too seriously. Don’t spend too much of time, effort and money on expensive apparels, diet, gym schedules etc.

Just run, and keep at it till you reach some kind of an acceptable standard (say, 5km in 30 minutes for a 35 year old). Simple common sense approach and regular practice will take you up to these standards. Even if you can’t reach this target, don’t fret. Just keep at it and you will slowly improve. Once you reach this level, start preparing for an event. Look at specialist advice. Pick up good shoes, follow some kind of a training schedule, indulge a bit in comfortable gear and enjoy the experience.

Finally, let me reiterate that running is all about self confidence, self belief and improving oneself. It’s about discovering our own limits and slowly but surely, pushing them further. Contrary to popular belief, running is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. So, go for it.

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